Johnson revival continues as Warriors down Bulldogs
Warriors coach Andrew Webster says he is not concerned by the prospect of rivals trying to lure Shaun Johnson back to Australia after he starred in the club's 24-12 win over Canterbury.
Enjoying a late-career renaissance at age 32, Johnson put on a clinic as he set up two tries with the boot before the break.
His input helped end a three-match losing streak for the Warriors and put them back in the top eight.
In contrast, Canterbury could finish the round in last place if results go against them, with captain Reed Mahoney lashing their performance as "unacceptable".
Johnson has been brilliant for the Warriors this year.
Off-contract at the end of this season, the halfback is already believed to have attracted interest from the Wests Tigers.
And if he plays like he did on Friday night, it is only a matter of time until more clubs make an advance.
"He should be proud if there are people this side of the ditch that want him," Warriors coach Andrew Webster said.
"People want him to come back because they're seeing how well he's playing and they think he can contribute and impact for his team. He should be proud of that.
"We're proud of that."
Webster praised Johnson's leadership and control on and off the field, as well as his ability to follow on from Stacey Jones and Benji Marshall in inspiring young New Zealanders.
The No.7 had his fingerprints all over the Warriors' first try, when he grubber-kicked to force a line dropout and then kicked again for a chasing Josh Curran in the next set.
He helped extend the Warriors lead later in the half when he kicked early for an unmarked Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, after an 80-metre intercept from Adam Pompey.
Webster said he did not believe Johnson would want to leave New Zealand for a second time after a three-year stint at Cronulla that ended in 2021.
"We're not at that stage where we're concerned about it," Webster said.
"What I am concerned about is (that) Shaun and I keep having really good communication with each other. And if we continue to do that everything is going to be fine.
"Shaun is the best to comment if he is happy at home in New Zealand but it certainly looks like that. He's always played his best football there."
Johnson has not been alone in starring for the Warriors this year.
Dylan Walker and Addin Fonua-Blake have also had their best seasons in years, with the pair combining for a try when Walker went short to the rampaging prop.
Fonua-Blake finished with 140 metres to go with his try on Friday night, while Tohu Harris was immense at lock with 162 metres.
Canterbury, in contrast, are a side desperately needing their injured brigade back before their first season under new coach Cameron Ciraldo fades away.
Josh Addo-Carr should return next Sunday against Gold Coast after an aborted attempt to come back on Friday. The Bulldogs have been missing his spark and that of second-rower Viliame Kikau.
Canterbury threatened a comeback when Harrison Edwards stepped his way through a gap from close distance to open their account but that was cancelled out by a Ronald Volkman try just past the hour mark.
Jayden Okunbor scored late for the Bulldogs but by then the game was gone.
"The whole thing was frustrating," Mahoney said.
"It was unacceptable."